Thursday, November 1, 2012

Going to the balcony

We all know that sticky feeling we get when we are over-engaged with the drama of a situation, when we are quick to feel resentment, blame, and righteous indignation.  But as long as we're stuck in that space it's very unlikely the situation will resolve itself, or that we will be able to move on, to return to the clarity and energy we need to fulfill our gifts and callings.

We can only really successfully begin to resolve a problem by pulling away from our emotional engagement with it, from what Pema Chodron calls "Shenpa."  William Ury, from Harvard's Program on Negotiation, calls this distancing "going to the balcony," and suggests that instead of getting stuck in the drama of the moment we imagine ourselves overlooking it from a balcony high above the fray.

Going to the balcony allows us to acquire a larger perspective, to be more objective; to see how a given situation might look to the other participants.  That objectivity in turn enables us to understand another's point of view; to feel the empathy, compassion and forgiveness that are necessary to reach a mutually beneficial resolution.

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